By Kayhan Life Staff

Leaders of the national Log Cabin Republicans on Nov. 11 presented Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi with the 2023 Outspoken Award at the Spirit of Lincoln gala in recognition of his lifelong dedication to the pursuit of a free and democratic Iran.

The organization is the most prominent Republican organization in the United States representing LGBT conservatives and their allies in support of equality under the law for all, free markets, individual liberty, limited government, and a strong national defense.

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The Prince accepted the award on behalf of millions of Iranians because, he said, “it is they who, despite suffering under incomparable repression, are truly outspoken – and at a cost that few in the West can imagine.”  He described the situation in Iran as a revolution that has united Iranians of all walks of life “in their fight against the criminal regime that has occupied our great nation for far too long.”

In his speech, the Prince laid out a vision for a Middle East “where Iranians, Israelis, and Arabs can live side by side, not only in peace but in prosperity – a coalition of the willing to replace this regime’s axis of resistance.”

He spoke about a future “where the rights of citizens – irrespective of their gender, faith, or sexuality – will have their fundamental human rights respected.”

This year’s gala was held at the Reagan Library and Museum, in Simi Valley, California to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the defeat of the Briggs Initiative, led by former President Ronald Reagan (who was then Governor of California).  The Briggs Initiative (1978) was a California ballot proposition (Proposition 6) spearheaded by state legislator John Briggs.  If passed, teachers who were found to have taken part in “public homosexual activity” or “public homosexual conduct” would be fired.

The following is the full text of Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi’s speech, delivered at the 2023 Spirit of Lincoln Gala.

“Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. I am pleased to be here with you at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and I am particularly delighted to be here to honor the important work of the Log Cabin Republicans, especially your work to highlight the plight of the LGBTQ community in my country– Iran.

Allow me to begin by thanking you for your kind words and honoring me with this year’s Outspoken award. While I am appreciative of it, I hope that you will indulge me and allow me to accept this award not on my own behalf but on behalf of millions of my compatriots — for it is they who, despite suffering under incomparable repression, are truly outspoken, and at a cost that few in the West can imagine.

Tonight, I am thinking particularly of the members of the Iranian LGBT community who have been forced to live in fear and silence for 44 years. While equal rights for the gay and lesbian community in this country and around the world have, happily, become commonplace in both law and society, the same is not the case in Iran. Indeed, in Iran, the clock has been turned back to the dark ages.

Under the Islamic Republic, LGBT individuals have been stoned, hung by construction cranes in public squares, tortured and raped in jails, forced to undergo gender-reassignment surgeries and other unspeakable crimes. What this community faces in Iran is not mere social discrimination, it is a state policy to wipe them out entirely.

This was not always the case in Iran, however. Before the clerical regime took over our country in 1979, gays and lesbians enjoyed vast social freedoms. Today, I stand with and am proud to stand up for the Iranian LGBT community, and they should know that just as I defend the right of every other Iranian, I defend their rights as well.

The Islamic Revolution, however, was not just a giant leap backwards into the dark ages for the LGBT community.

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Non-Muslim faith communities have been faced with legal and constitutional restrictions on their freedoms comparable only to the Nazi’s Nuremberg race laws. Members of the Baha’i faith are forbidden from attending universities and their gravesites are routinely razed and desecrated. Converts to Christianity are forced into illegal underground churches and, if discovered, are imprisoned or even executed. Iran’s Jewish population has decreased by more than 90 percent – depriving citizens of the fundamental right to live in their own country. Zoroastrians, Sunni Muslims, atheists, and even Shia Muslims who do not subscribe to this regime’s theocratic perversion are systematically persecuted.

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Of course, the foremost victims of this regime have been Iranian women. Prior to the revolution Iranian women – who earned the right to vote before the women of Switzerland — served in many capacities such as judges, ministers, leaders of industry, and military personnel. But as the revolutionaries took over Tehran, they proudly called out to the women of our country: “Take this head covering or take one in the head!”

The progressive family laws that had banned polygamy, raised the marriage age to 18, given women the right to divorce, child custody, and full social equality was the very first law that this regime revoked. Iranian women were forced into second-class citizenship under a gender-apartheid state.

It is for that reason that so many of you heard the calls from the streets of cities of Iran last year for the ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ movement.

But what you may not be as familiar with is what dimensions this movement in my country has taken on. For when young schoolboys defied their headmaster by chanting “Women, Life, Freedom!” in support of their female classmates, the young schoolgirls responded with “Man, Homeland, Prosperity!”

What is happening in Iran, even as we speak, is not a movement merely to protect or improve the rights of one segment of society. It is a national movement– a revolution– that has united Iranians of all walks of life.

My compatriots, despite never having experienced true democracy, have achieved a remarkable political awakening and sophistication. Despite, or perhaps because of, their four decades of pain, suffering, lack, and even humiliation, they have realized that it is only when they unite and come to the aid of one another that they can save themselves.

The Iranian people – gay and straight, conservative and liberal, religious and secular, monarchist and republican, rural and urban – have come together as one united nation in their fight against the criminal regime that has occupied our great nation for far too long.

They, ladies and gentlemen, truly deserve your Outspoken award because not only are they speaking out for their freedom, they are fighting for it.

And it is on their behalf that I must ask those– certainly not those in this room– but those who it is so easy to take a stand for what is popular, to write a tweet or post a story about the cause of the day– have you taken a stand for the people of Iran?

I ask particularly those who would call themselves ‘progressives’ – where have you been? When you have a nation fighting for gender equality, workers’ rights, the rights of people of all faiths, economic opportunity, the protection of LGBT rights… when my compatriots took to the streets in 2009 and risked their lives to chant ‘Obama, Obama — are you with us, or with them?’ — meaning the dictators – where were you?

From many, the silence has been deafening.

Regrettably, the current administration has shown nothing but more of this same silence. Certainly, there has been no action. My compatriots are tired of lip service to “democracy” and “human rights” when you are sending cash to the people who are using live ammunition to fire into the heads of their children as they actually fight for democracy and human rights.

While the Iranian people will not forget those who turned their backs on them in their darkest of hours, they will remember fondly those who stood with them and supported them. And my friends, we are on the cusp of a historic moment.

The people of Iran will, once again, take to the streets as their fight for freedom and liberation continues. I ask all of you to be ready for that. Because as we face the horrors of Hamas rockets falling, the faltering of the Abraham Accords, and more death and destruction across the Middle East– the people of Iran are not only fighting to free themselves; they are fighting to free the region and the world from the clutches of this regime and to usher in a new era of peace.

The vision that my compatriots and I offer is one of a Middle East at peace. We believe in looking beyond just the remarkable progress of the Abraham Accords to the even brighter future of the Cyrus Accords, where all forward-thinking nations in the region can coexist and collaborate for its betterment. We envision a future where the rights of citizens– irrespective of their gender, faith, or sexuality– will have their fundamental human rights respected. We envision a future where Iranians, Israelis, and Arabs can live side by side, not only in peace but in prosperity– a coalition of the willing to replace this regime’s axis of resistance.

For this, my friends, is the ancient and enduring message of the Iranian nation. We are defined by Cyrus the Great who freed the Jews from Babylon not by the great criminals of the Islamic Republic who seek to wipe the Jewish state off the map. We are defined by the first ever declaration of human rights from more than two millennia ago, not by the regime occupying our great nation that seeks repression at home and aggression abroad.

So I urge you to consider this vision– a Middle East finally at peace. And if you believe in this vision, I say to you that my brave, outspoken compatriots deserve your support and they deserve the support of the United States. This regime must face maximum pressure and the people of Iran deserve maximum support for their democratic aspirations.

I believe my people will succeed in their historic struggle and will – again – be free. When they do, I know they will remember who their true friends were.

So, thank you once again, to the Log Cabin Republicans for this honor and for your such important work.

Thank you very much and have a good evening.”

Prince Reza Pahlavi : ‘The Alternative to the Islamic Republic is the Iranian nation’




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